- BBV (Bolton Business Ventures Ltd.);
- Business Finance Solutions;
- CART (Cumbria Asset Reinvestment Trust);
- East Lancs Moneyline;
- Lancashire Community Finance;
- Merseyside Special Investment Fund; and
- Moneyline Greater Manchester.
05 December 2010
28 November 2010
"Ground Floor Ventures is about bringing together entrepreneurs with investors and, unlike other existing 'angel networks', we choose not to charge entrepreneurs to come along and pitch. This means Ground Floor Ventures gets really interesting opportunities that the other events miss out on by pricing out the early stage entrepreneurs. We look for unique businesses which have the potential for serious growth and we aim to attract entrepreneurs looking for a relatively small amount of investment (typically under £30k) so that investors don't have to be 'squillionaires' to reach into their pockets and 'get in on the ground floor' of fabulous business opportunities."
22 November 2010
- barristers and solicitors who can tell you about enforcement, licensing, manufacturing and joint venture agreements
- engineers and product design consultants who can talk about prototyping and testing, and
- angels and community development finance institutions who can talk about funding.
16 November 2010
A further indication of what's hoping to replace Business Link emerged yesterday when Business Secretary Vice Cable announced plans for a new single network of mentoring providers. According to the Department's press release, there will be a single online gateway to mentoring from the summer of 2011.
“The best people to advise new entrepreneurs and existing businesses are those who have already started and run successful companies. Mentoring is a very effective way of promoting start-ups, higher productivity and growth amongst established businesses, so I am delighted to announce this new network."
14 November 2010
The East Midlands covers the counties of Derbyshire, Leicestershire, Lincolnshire, Northanptonshire, Nottinghamshire and Rutland. According to Wikipedia the region's population is just under 4.2 million and its land area is 15,627 square kilometres. Major towns and cities include Nottingham, Leicester, Derby, Lincoln and Northampton.
07 November 2010
This is the second of my regional surveys of resources for inventors.
02 November 2010
30 October 2010
- LEPs I discussed local enterprise partnerships in my article of 21 Oct "Local Enterprise Partnerships begin to take Shape". In its white paper the government announced that it had accepted 24 of the 62 proposals to establish local enterprise partnerships. These include the proposals from "city regions" like Leeds, Manchester and Sheffield as well as those from predominately rural areas like Cornwall, Cumbria and the Marches. It will be from those local enterprise partnerships and any business support services that they may sponsor that the private inventors, who now look to Business Link and the RDAs, will obtain advice and help on commercializing their inventions in future.
- RGF: The money that used to be channelled through the RDAs will now come through the RGF which is now accepting bids (see "Information for Applicants" and the application form guidance). It should be noted that there will be a lot less money about than before and that it will be targeted.
29 October 2010
26 October 2010
In addition to national banking, angel and VC networks there are several strong local financial institutions. These include the Entrust business angel network and 4 local community development finance institutions, namely Five Lamps, Northern Pinetree Trust, PNE Group and Street North East.
23 October 2010
Exasperated by the absence of British companies among the top 10 companies that had been granted UK patents between 2004 and 2005 I wrote in September 2005 the article “Why are there no British Names in the Patent Office's Top Ten?” The reason then as now was that the cost of obtaining and enforcing a patent in the UK was beyond the means of most small and medium enterprises. In the article I discussed the ways in which intellectual property infringement litigation could be funded and came to the conclusion that before the event insurance was probably the best option. The very next day I wrote the article “IP Insurance: Does it Work?” and mentioned one instance where it seemed to do so. The next day in this blog I wrote an article especially on “IP Insurance”.
Since 2005 the following developments have taken place:
· Sir Rupert Jackson has reviewed and reported on Civil Litigation Costs; and
· the Civil Procedure Rules and Practice Directions have been amended to limit costs in Patents County Court actions at £50,000 on liability and £25,000 on quantum which theoretically makes litigation in the Patents County Court only marginally more expensive than in Germany.
The cheapest intellectual property insurance service that I could find in 2005, Intellectual Property Insurance Consultants, is no longer with us but its prime mover Ian Macleod seems to be working now for Alfa Insurance Facilities. Ian Lewis who made Miller into what appeared to be the market leader in this sector in 2005 has founded Samian Underwriting Agency. David Freer, who used to be with HSBC Insurance Consultants, is now a director of Marsh. However, I have also found several new entrants to the market.
Below are the intellectual property insurance services that I have been able to identify. If anyone knows of any broker, underwriter or other intellectual property insurance service provider that I should add to this list, please let me know.
0870 600 1480
Ian Macleod 01903 23 22 86
020 8315 5066
020 7923 4655
David Freer 07770 740237
Mark Philimore 0113 366 2369
020 7031 2819
Ian Lewis 020 7954 4430
21 October 2010
- a green paper on a £1 billion regional growth fund announced by the Cabinet in Bradford "to encourage private sector enterprise, including social enterprise, and capacity, and in doing so create opportunities for people and places to adjust to reductions in public spending"; and
- "Financing a Private Sector Recovery" (Cm 7923) a consultation on access to funding in the private sector.
These will be replaced by a state funded online service - presumably the existing Business Link website possibly under the "Solutions for Business" brand - and greater use of existing service providers such as chambers of commerce and local authorities. The proposal for a new business information service to be provided by thee British Library, NESTA, Newcastle City Council and Northumbria University is probably something like the model Mr. Prisk had in mind (see "Mark Prisk announces new business advisory service" on the Real Business website).“We’re going to wind down the Regional Development Agencies, and as part of those, we’ll be winding down the regional Business Link contracts.”
21 August 2010
Most inventors learn from the Intellectual Property Office (“IPO”), librarians, Business Link advisors, patent attorneys and each other that they should disclose their inventions only in confidence. They know that they should ask business partners, investors and others to sign instruments like the IPO’s “Confidential Disclosure Agreement”.
But what happens if a person who has signed one of those agreements breaks his or her promises by making the invention or disclosing it to a third party? Theoretically the inventor can claim an injunction, damages or other relief for breach of confidence. If he or she acts quickly enough, the inventor can apply to the court for an injunction to restrain the breach until trial. But an application of that kind can cost thousands of pounds. There are not very many individuals or indeed businesses with that kind of money.
Before the Access to Justice Act 1999 legal aid was available for that kind of action. Unfortunately para.1 (h) of Sched. 2 of that Act now excludes business disputes from legal aid. Many unscrupulous opportunists are aware that civil litigation is not an option for their victims if they disregard their obligations.
However, civil litigation is not the only means of enforcement. Parties to an agreement can agree to refer any dispute or difference arising from their agreement to a tribunal of their choice known as an “arbitrator” who will determine the dispute in accordance with the law and evidence in much the same way as a judge would though in private and at a time and place of the parties’ choosing. That is a process known as “arbitration”. It is one of several alternatives to the courts that are bundled together under the label “alternative dispute resolution” or ADR.
There are many types of dispute for which arbitration is more appropriate than litigation. If a case turns on a technical issue as happens frequently in civil engineering, the issue is more likely to be understood by an arbitrator who has spent his lifetime in that profession than by a judge who has spent his in the criminal or divorce courts. If the parties are from different countries and neither is comfortable with the legal system of the other they can refer their dispute to a neutral that they both trust. Yet another type of case appropriate for arbitration are disputes between trade mark owners and proprietors of domain names that are the same or similar to the mark as to who should own the domain name. The parties to such disputes need a process that is fast and fair but also inexpensive. Procedures like the Uniform Domain Name Dispute Resolution Policy (“UDRP”) deliver a binding decision within a few weeks of the complaint for as little as US$1,500.
There is no reason why a process like the UDRP should not be used to resolve other types of intellectual property dispute such as those that subsist between inventors and their collaborators, investors, licensees and other third parties. NIPC Ltd has established such a process called NIPC Arbitration. This is “a low cost dispute resolution service for intellectual property, technology, media and entertainment cases” inspired by the UDRP and similar schemes. NIPC Arbitration can deliver an order to refrain from breaching a promise not to use or disclose confidential information within a few days of the reference for as little as £475 (£250 to the arbitrator for a telephone hearing lasting less than an hour plus £100 to the company for registration, another £25 for appointing the arbitrator and £100 for arranging the hearing). Rule 5 of the scheme’s Arbitration Rules confers on the arbitrator all the powers of the court including the power to grant interim injunctions. The risk to the inventor is limited by rule 11 (4) which limits costs to those that would be awarded by a hearing officer in an Intellectual Property Office tribunal which very rarely exceed £3,000 and are usually much lower. An award by an arbitrator is as good as a judgment for most purposes and can be backed up if necessary by the courts.
NIPC Arbitration is by no means the only arbitration scheme but it is the only one that is tailored to IP disputes involving individual inventors, start-ups and other small businesses. Key to the scheme is an arbitration clause which refers disputes to an NIPC arbitrator under the NIPC Arbitration Rules. Examples of such clauses are to be found on the Arbitration Agreement Page of the NIPC website.